Pickup hits homeless man, 47, in wheelchair

BRADENTON — A 47-year-old homeless man is in critical condition after he was struck Saturday night by a pickup as he was rolling his wheelchair across Manatee Avenue West, according to Bradenton Police Department.

The man was crossing north in the 1200 block near the Manatee County Judicial Center inside a crosswalk on a green light just before 7:30 p.m., said Bradenton Police Lt. Bryan Fowler.

The driver of the pick-up told police the sun was in his eyes and the man shot out in front of him, Fowler said.

The truck, which was traveling at about 30 mph., crumpled one side of the chair, which sat in the roadway near some of the man’s possessions, including a blanket and a couple of pillows.

The man was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

One of the man’s friends, who declined to give his name, watched paramedics work on the man as he lay in the street next to his chair.

The man lost one of his legs in a fire last year, the friend said.

On Saturday afternoon, the man missed the bus going to his mother’s residence and was heading home when he was struck, the friend said.

“After the impact, I saw him slide. I thought it was a motorcycle for a second,” he said.

A woman who was walking several steps behind the man said he was almost on the sidewalk when he was struck and flung across the intersection.

Mark Lipinski, criminal defense attorney, whose law office is less than a block away from the crash, said he knows the injured man.

“I used to give him money sometimes,” he said. “I hope he makes it.”

The investigation is ongoing, although it appears the driver had the green light, Fowler said.

Beth Burger, Herald reporter, can be reached at 745-7919.